Once relegated, now a beautiful bride: The FCE Okene example

The Federal College of Education (FCE) Okene in Kogi state established in 1976 has carved a niche for itself as a citadel of learning having occupied a pride in the committee of top tertiary teachers training institutions in Nigeria. All these were made possible through the commitment of the provost as SALIHU OYIBO reports.

The tremendous growth in human and infrastructural facilities in the institution in the last four years has significantly impacted on the college’s academic standard.

Investigation shows that hard work and accountability, among other traits, are the qualities that the provost of the college, Dr Umar Hassan has brought to bear on the institution which few years ago was not reckoned with.

The college has churned out thousands of quality teachers and has passed through many leadership before Dr Hassan assumed office in September, 2017.

Upon his appointment, he hit the ground running in view of the enormous challenges inherited.

Landmark achievements

Within four years, the institution is noted for peace and harmony with stable academic calendar, enhanced staff and students’ welfare, improved academic growth and development as well as aggressive infrastructural development.

Dr Umar Hassan’s peace initiative has restored hope and confidence in all aspects of the college which has paved ways for rapid transformation in the institution.

Also his policy on staff development is unprecedented in the annals of the institution as the policy was able to train a total of 223 staff for further studies out of which 69 academic staff were TETFUND sponsored and 154 non-teaching staff were locally-sponsored.

In addition, a  total of 131 academic staff had been sponsored for conferences under TETFUND while 15 of the newly-created directorate of procurement were sponsored for professional training in procurement just as another 15 staff of the college were sponsored to acquire ANAN certificates in Jos.

On the staff welfare, investigation shows that the institution has cleared almost all Accrued Promotion Arrears for 2015 and 2016 inherited by his administration while 2018 and 2019 promotions were effected and financially implemented for the benefits of the staff.

Also, on the health policy of the college, Dr Umar Hassan initiated and implemented
medical subsidy for staff with life threatening diseases.

He also made it mandatory that in the case of death, all staff members are entitled to an enhanced welfare package.

In order to achieve the vision statement of the college as a key player in nation-building, Dr Hassan completed some projects such as one-storey building complex for Adult, Non-Formal Education and Special Education, the twin-200 seater lecture theatre, one-storey building block of eight classroom complex and of 400 seat capacity auditorium for the School of Sciences which is ongoing.

Other projects within these four years include one-storey building for School of Languages and lecturer’s office complex, in addition to the
construction of two VIP toilets with borehole facilities all funded by TETfund.
Desirous of bringing to an end the lingering problem of acute office accommodation confronting non-teaching staff, the provost commenced the construction of administrative block presently at 85 percent completion.

Collaboration with a federal ministry

To address the dearth of basic social amenities in the college, Dr Hassan in collaboration with Rural Electrification Agency and the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing erected 64 poles of solar powered street lights across the campus and drilling of two solar powered boreholes one each in males and females hostel including another one at the staff quarters.

The provost also boosted the female hostels with the construction of a hostel block and renovation of two others to tackle the shortage of accommodation.

Also in collaboration with works ministry, asphalt overlay of about 1.2 km stretch of road network has been constructed as efforts are on top gear to commence the second phase of road construction in the campus. Other projects include furnishing, landscaping and completion of MIS building, furnishing and completion of school of vocational education building, furnishing and completion of gymnasium as well as completion of landscaping of School of General Education.

In the area of security of life and property in the college, the provost boosted the security architecture of the institution by inviting the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to fortify the college security network and was provided with operational vehicle for effective performance.

Commendations

Commenting on the provost’s performance, President, Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education in Nigeria (SSUCOEN) Comrade Danladi Ali Misheliza, described Dr  Hassan as an astute administrator.

Comrade Misheliza, who was at the college penultimate weeks ago for the inauguration of the new executive members of the union, seize the opportunity to tour the institution to enable him asses the level of projects executed by the provost. He expressed satisfaction over the infrastructural revolution.

According to him, “I have heard a lot about the giant strides of the provost of this college and what I have seen now. I am completely dumbfounded because I have seen a great achievements in terms of completed projects and some ongoing in their numbers.

“I have seen the administrative block project almost 85 per cent completion, I have seen the School of Language project completed and it is already put to use, I have seen other projects ongoing around the campus.

“What amazed me most is the commitment of the provost toward assessing TETFund interventions. While many other provosts across the country were battling with assessment of 2012, 2013 and 2014 TETFund, FCE Okene has assessed uptill 2020 and this shows how serious and committed the management is.

“I respect the provost and his management team; I respect what they are doing and I want to challenge other provosts in other colleges of education that are yet to assess TETFUND to do that with a view to execute projects in their institutions.

“I must tell you that I am highly impressed with the performance of the provost and his team for the developmental stride I have seen in the college,” he stated.

Comrade Misheliza therefore used the occasion to call on the staff and students of FCE Okene to support the provost and his team with a view to taking the institution to the next level of development, saying the management has tried and what they needed now is more support from staff and students to enable them deliver their laudable plans and programmes for the institution.

Community leader commends efforts

Also, one of the community leaders in Otite, the host community, Mallam Yusuf Andah Salihu, said since the appointment of Dr Hassan to preside over the affairs of the institution almost four years ago, even the greatest critic of the college would agree that there has been tremendous change in the affairs of the institution in terms of peaceful coexistence, unity of purpose and development of the institution.

Salihu noted that through his commitment and selfless service, the institution has achieved its mission of producing quality manpower in the educational sector of the country.

“Honestly, Dr  Umar Hassan deserves second term in office considering his numerous performances and landmark achievements,” he said.

He described the provost as silent achiever, who set his target and pursue it vigorously carrying along other members of the management team.

Until his appointment, he was a chief lecturer in the Department of Physical and Health Education, Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto.

He obtained his Bachelor of Education Degree in Physical and Health Education in 1984 from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and was at the University of Ibadan where he bagged his Masters’ Degree in Exercise Physiology.

By dint of hard work, he rose through the ranks as an assistant lecturer in 1986 to chief lecturer in 2005. In the process and at different times, he headed various positions of high responsibilities, among which include head Department of Physical and Health Education, Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto.

As an educationist Dr Hassan has to his credit several publications and numerous seminar papers. He has also presented over 20 conferences and workshop papers with research output in some other critical areas of both primary and basic education in Sokoto, Katsina and Niger states.